Mommy sleep is a whole different thing than regular sleep. One of the best pieces of advice I received during my pregnancy was to get as much sleep as I could. Well, I didn't follow that for two reasons:
1) I didn't believe them.
2) Once I couldn't sleep on my stomach any longer, I really couldn't sleep.
Once Lauren was born, sleep took on a whole new meaning. For the first few months, sleep was something I got in spurts. I'd usually be up with Lauren two or three times a night. The first few weeks were the worst - I wasn't able to breastfeed, but was pumping. So, I'd get up, feed her, put her down to sleep and then pump before going back to bed. I would get about 2 hours of sleep at a time. This got a little better when we switched Lauren to formula. I'd nap with her when I could, but oftentimes it was hard to get comfortable. I kind of got "used" to the sleep pattern.
When Lauren was about 8 months old, someone finally informed me that she didn't actually need to get up in the middle of the night for a feeding. By this time we were down to one feeding, but it was still interrupting both my and Lauren's sleep enough to make us tired the next day. So, I did the whole "let her cry" thing and after two nights (yes, just two!) she was sleeping through the night!
Finally, at 18 months, Lauren is to the point where she consistently sleeps through the night, although when she wakes up varies between 5:30 at the earliest and 9 at the latest! She goes to bed at 8, and our bedtime routine is perfect. I still feel tired some days, but it is a miracle how much better I feel now than when she was little - and I think the same goes for her. We are both happier people when we get a good night's sleep!
The other side of Mommy Sleep: there will always be times that a sleeping baby makes you a nervous wreck. Honestly. Wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't experienced it. Sometimes a sleeping baby can make a mom panic.
Cases in Point:
1. When Lauren was a newborn, she would be quietly sleeping in her crib. Generally, this was after an exhausting half hour or so of rocking her to sleep and gently setting her down. And if she stayed asleep...it freaked me out. She always slept in her crib - we never had her in our room, but I kept a monitor on. If I couldn't hear her breathing on the monitor (I did keep it that loud), then I would go in to check on her. If I couldn't hear her still, I would either lay a hand on her chest or put my finger under her nose to make sure she was still breathing. She was. But I just had to check.
2. I took Lauren for a drive by myself the day before I went back to work. She was 9 weeks old and I was nervous about going back. She hated her carseat. Lauren was never one to calm down and go to sleep in her carseat. She tried to fight her way out. So we are driving and I'm trying to remain calm with a screaming baby in the backseat. As we drive, a crazy thing happens: she stops crying. Now, she's facing backward and I don't have one of those cool mirror things so I can see her (not that it would've helped me at this point). As I am driving, I'm frantically reaching back to see if I can tell if she is breathing or has cried herself to death. Fearing that I will wreck the car, I pull off into a random driveway, unbuckle my seatbelt, and lean back over the car to put my finger under her nose to see if she is breathing. She was. But I just had to check.
3. Lauren likes to get up early. No matter what time she goes to bed, generally she wakes up between 5:30 and 6. It is a good day if she sleeps until 7. This past Saturday morning, I woke up at 7:15 and was a little nervous - Lauren was still asleep. I tried going back to bed, but this was a lost cause because I was worried about Lauren and wondered why she was still asleep. So, I get out of bed, go into her room and listen to hear her breathing. At this point, I can usually tell just by listening, so I'm no longer touching her to check. Instead of going back to bed, which wouldn't have helped because I wouldn't have rested well at all, I went down and Troy and I did something we hadn't done since Lauren was born - watched Saturday morning television together! Every commercial break, we'd take turns going up and checking on her. Until 9 when she finally got up. But we couldn't relax because it was so unlike her to sleep!
I'm convinced that Mommy Sleep is never going to be the same as sleep before babies. While it can be refreshing, there are many things to trigger anxiety from the time they are born until they leave the house, I imagine. Mommy Sleep is ironic: You are desperate for sleep, and then when you get it because your child is sleeping, you either don't sleep well or wake up in a panic wondering why your child is sleeping. Welcome to Motherhood...also known as the Age of Worry for some...including me!